Liam Neeson heading to the MCEC

Coronavirus restrictions have seen Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) explore new ways to use their unutilised spaces, including the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson.

MCEC closed its doors in March due to the pandemic, but has been exploring new ways to contribute to the community.

“Even with the impacts of the pandemic, we contributed $740 million in economic impact to the state last financial year, and a further $1.1 billion the year prior,” said Peter King, chief executive of MCEC.

“We can play an important role in the state’s economic recovery by using our spaces in new ways, both to bring jobs back to the city and support the wider community.”

Using the venue’s space as a film studio was originally floated as part of a new idea-generating ‘hackathon’ held by MCEC in August called ‘Unconventional Ideas’.

Since that event, MCEC has been working with the Victorian screen industry, resulting in the venue hosting the production of Hollywood film Blacklight, directed by Mark Williams (co-creator of Ozark and director of box-office success Honest Thief).

The production is expected to bring more than 500 local jobs for cast and crew back to the local film sector.

“We are thrilled to shoot at the MCEC as it provides amazing soundstages, some key locations and great production offices,” said Williams.

“It’s a wonderful Melbourne backlot, ideal for our production needs.  And as a bonus, the MCEC team couldn’t be more helpful and friendly.”

The MCEC is not the only conference centre in Australia repurposing its space during the pandemic with the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre reportedly set to host TV show Millionaire Hot Seat with Eddie McGuire.

Ironically, the show was forced to stop filming in Melbourne due to the coronavirus crisis, before deciding to relocate the Gold Coast.